“I’m used to the underdog role. I’m used to having to fight, scratch and claw for things."By Rich Walsh

CLAIRTON, Pa. (KDKA) — The 2021 NFL Draft was filled with compelling moments when players around the country realized their dreams of being drafted.

That wasn’t the case for one local player who is now hoping to turn disappointment into opportunity.

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Lamont Wade has always been a star player. In high school at Clairton, he won three WPIAL titles and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Pennsylvania. He moved on to play at Penn State, where he showed ball-hawking abilities as a defensive back.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

But despite those plays, Wade watched all seven rounds of last weekend’s NFL Draft without hearing his name called.

“I was at my Grandma’s with all my family,” Wade said. “I was just waiting on a call, waiting to see what happened. It never came through.”

But right after the draft ended, several calls came through from teams trying to sign him as a free agent. One call came from his hometown team. He chose the Steelers’ offer based on two major aspects.

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“Definitely their depth was one,” Wade said. “(Mike) Hilton just got out of there. I feel like nickel is one of my best positions and this is a chance to go in there and compete for that spot. Also the situation with my son, me being able to still be in his life effectively, those two things combined to make me feel like I made a great decision.”

Despite the Steelers’ lack of depth at defensive back, Wade understands the challenge of making this roster. It’s a challenge he relishes.

“I’m used to the underdog role,” Wade said. “I’m used to having to fight, scratch and claw for things. So this is nothing new to me. Honestly, I look forward to being able to show what I got and prove people wrong.”

And now that he’s back in his hometown, Wade says he has plans to help improve the Clairton community regardless of whether or not he plays on Sundays.

“I’m already on the ground working, getting my feet under me, running with different things I have planned for the community,” Wade said. “I look forward to starting that right now.”

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Like all Steelers rookies, Wade is scheduled to start rookie minicamp next Friday, but he told KDKA that the rookies are meeting with the veterans early next week to decide whether that will be in person or virtual.